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85 mph! Texas to open toll highway with fastest speed limit in nation: Now driving across Texas isn't a career

Jeff King 2012/09/06 18:37:11
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The claim that "everything is bigger in Texas" will likely gain further clout later this year, when the speed limit on a stretch of toll road between Austin and San Antonio hits 85 miles per hour — the highest limit in the country. Constructions crews on Wednesday began posting 85-mph speed limit signs along a pending section of toll road on Texas' State Highway 130. This 41-mile stretch of highway, which will open for traffic by Nov. 11, is on the east side of Austin and heads southwest toward San Antonio.

Chris Lippincott, an official with the State Highway 130 Concession Co., said that the Texas Department of Transportation has determined that this area is safe to travel at 85 mph. We are committed to operating a safe, reliable highway for our customers," Lippincott said in a statement. "On any road, drivers hold the key to safety based on traffic, travel conditions and the capabilities of their own vehicles."

Since the repeal of the 55-mph national speed limit for U.S. highways in 1995, 34 states have individually raised their speed limits to 70 mph or higher on portions of their roads, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association.

Other roads in the Lone Star State also have high speed limits: On some highways in rural West Texas, drivers can legally cruise as fast as 80 mph, The Associated Press reported. Utah is the only other state in the country with posted speeds at 80 mph, with that as the limit on portions of Interstate 15, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety believes higher speed limits have a costly trade-off.

"There’s a clear safety downside to raising safety limits," spokesperson Russ Rader told NBC News. "The research is absolutely clear that high speed limits lead to higher crash deaths."

Rader cited a 2009 study that found that in more than 10 years of follow-up after the 1995 federal speed limit repeal, an estimated 12,545 American deaths were attributed to increased speed limits.

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"If safety were a priorty, states would not be raising speed limits," Rader said. "They would be finding ways to heavily enforce speed limits they have."

The National Motorists Association, an advocacy organization originally rooted in fighting the 55-mph national limit, believes higher speeds are a "win-win" situation.

"Based on what we have heard about it, the Texas Department of Transportation did in fact do their required homework to make this happen," spokesperson John Bowman said.

Related: Robot cars could increase highway efficiency 273 percent, study says

"The prevailing wisdom is setting the speed low," Bowman said, so there is a pressure to set low speed limits. However, he said they believe that legitimate studies often find that the speeds on roads should be raised.

"There’s a myth that when you increase speed limits, accidents and fatalities go up," Bowman claimed.

According to Bowman, higher speeds can actually increase highway safety by letting traffic flow at is own rate, reducing conflicts between vehicles, less stopping and starting, and fewer quick lane changes.

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Top Opinion

  • Steve 2012/09/06 19:42:28
    I agree with 85 MPH speed limit
    Steve
    +3
    May have to go to Texas just to drive on it.

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  • Tennessean 2012/09/07 16:18:22
    I agree with 85 MPH speed limit
    Tennessean
    +1
    When I started driving, the speed limit in Tennessee was 65 mph on most two lane roads, and when I-40 was complete the speed limit was 75 mph, but troopers would hardly ever stop a car for speding on the interstatre unless they were going over 100 mph, and many people, myself included, drove between 90 mph and 105 mph on the interstate.

    With todays suspention, tires and brakes, the speed limit on all intersates should be at least 85 mph.

    I still own a Mazda RX-7 Turbo 2, with an after market turbo charger with adjustable boost that has been clocked at 170 mph, but now days I ususlly drive 5 mph above the posted speed limit.
  • Jeff King Tennessean 2012/09/07 16:20:42
  • Huki68 2012/09/06 20:00:09
    I agree with 85 MPH speed limit
    Huki68
    +2
    I wanna go home soon Muahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!! LOL
  • Michelle 2012/09/06 19:49:27
    I disagree with 85 MPH speed limit
    Michelle
    85mph = 140km.h.

    Scary. The fastest I've ever traveled (I wasn't driving, I was a passenger) is 120km/h (in a place where that was 50 over the speed limit, :S) Highway driving speed is about 100km/h. I really don't plan to drive in the States anytime soon; I would not trust myself behind the wheel of a car travelling that fast EVER.
  • Steve 2012/09/06 19:42:28
    I agree with 85 MPH speed limit
    Steve
    +3
    May have to go to Texas just to drive on it.
  • Dan der Mensch 2012/09/06 19:29:53
    I agree with 85 MPH speed limit
    Dan der Mensch
    +3
    That's nothing - I remember when Montana had no speed limit (during the day anyhow). I was coming back from a road trip once and actually passed an ambulance with it's lights on. >: ) I passed the accident long before they got there. Yeaaaaah baby!
  • Jeff King Dan der... 2012/09/06 19:37:44
  • say what? 2012/09/06 19:24:34
    Undecided
    say what?
    I guess it's ok for people that have late model cars. My old jalopy couldn't handle that speed for the long haul.
  • Jeff King say what? 2012/09/06 19:38:55
  • Teri- Oregon 2012/09/06 19:02:34
    I agree with 85 MPH speed limit
    Teri- Oregon
    +2
    I drove it, and as long as idiots are not on the road it runs very smoothly.
  • Jeff King Teri- O... 2012/09/06 19:39:31
  • bob'45 2012/09/06 18:56:00
    I agree with 85 MPH speed limit
    bob'45
    +3
    This is the sign in my neighborhood. :-) 85 miles an hour in texas
  • The Patriot 2012/09/06 18:54:21
    None of the above
    The Patriot
    +1
    That speed is only posted 2 miles before the "Caution Liberals Crossing Road" sign is.
  • Teri- O... The Pat... 2012/09/06 22:09:32
    Teri- Oregon
    +1
    Don't worry we didn't slow down for them, lol.
  • Kat ♪.BTO-t-BCRA-F~PWCM~ 2012/09/06 18:52:39
    I agree with 85 MPH speed limit
    Kat ♪.BTO-t-BCRA-F~PWCM~
    +3
    I use 80 mph highway in MS. moves well, no problems
  • stevmackey 2012/09/06 18:51:09
    I agree with 85 MPH speed limit
    stevmackey
    +3
    I remember 75mph in Florida. It hasn't returned since Nixon's 55mph. The highest is now 70mph. Speed is not important if you tires, engine and brake are all up to par. I know because I 140 mph in my 1969 Volvo just to see how fast i would go. That was on an empty Pennsylvania turnpike. I saw a trooper a mile away and was able to slow down, I never top ended that car. I had a full car load of people. Don't attempt that if you are not sure of your car, or if there is traffic.
  • Embalmer 2012/09/06 18:42:09
    I disagree with 85 MPH speed limit
    Embalmer
    It will only waste more gas, which is what they want.
  • Jeff King 2012/09/06 18:38:18

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